Welcome to this week’s edition of 3 Things We Love About, in which I provide compelling reasons to visit some of my favorite places in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. This week, we’re exploring 3 Things We Love About Poughkeepsie NY: Vassar College campus/Frances Lehman Loeb art center/Thompson Library; Darkside Records; and 129 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie.
I hate to spend money, so I frequently find myself in public spaces. Parks, libraries, hiking trails, anywhere without an entrance fee. College campuses make for great strolling, old building ogling, and people watching, so one night when my teenager and I needed something to do, we decided to head to Poughkeepsie and check out the Vassar College campus, 124 Raymond Avenue.
We started out with a purpose: Go to the Frances Lehman Loeb art center (no admission fee), look at the Hudson River School exhibit, and find the Francis Bacon painting we knew was there.
However, once we got on campus, we couldn’t resist the urge to investigate the college’s main library, a late 19th century perpendicular Gothic building with a dizzyingly large stained glass window dating back to 1906.
Festooned with buttresses and pinnacles, the Thompson library is worth a look for the architecture alone, but my favorite aspect of the library was the third floor art/media rooms, in which I discovered a section of books devoted entirely to a Japanese animation course offered at Vassar, all laid out and bookmarked for student use. I devoured those glossy animation books the very next day, when I returned to Vassar campus to show my husband around the library.
During the visit with my teen, we wandered around a variety of campus buildings, including the Skinner Hall of Music. Having gone to music school myself (University of Michigan school of music, class of 1998), I love poking around college music schools, libraries, performance spaces, and especially practice rooms. While small, Skinner Hall offers lots of piano practice room space, so I found one with an unlocked door and played one of the Steinways for a few minutes, much to my teenager’s embarrassment. “Mooom, we’re not supposed to be here,” she loud-whispered at me while I noodled on the keys. “Nonsense,” I said. “Pianos are meant to be played, and I don’t see anyone else here.” However, I understood where she was coming from, and not wanting to hog practice time from an actual student, we left the building in search of food.
We found it at a chain burger joint about a block from campus. The next day, when I returned to Vassar with my husband, we wandered around south western campus under the Bridge for Laboratory Science down the trail through Shakespeare Garden to the stream that flow to Spring Lake, where I saw the biggest snapping turtle I’ve ever seen in life.
Both trips to Poughkeepsie included a musical pilgrimage to the Darkside Records and Gallery, 611 Dutchess Turnpike, which happens to be the largest brick and mortar record store in the Hudson Valley. Packed with old and new vinyl as well as music-related accessories and art, Darkside is a must-visit for music superfans.
Pro-tip: Darkside has a once-monthly open mic held on Sunday afternoons, the perfect time of day for musician fogies, such as myself, who can’t hack those late-night open mics anymore.
If we were looking to relocate to the Poughkeepsie area, we would start with 129 Hooker Avenue. This smart and affordable Victorian was originally built in 1880 and includes over 2300 square feet, three bedrooms, and a renovated kitchen that will stop you dead in your tracks. Also includes formal entryway with curvaceous staircase, formal dining room, wood floors, walk-up attic, sunroom off the kitchen, and a half-acre landscaped yard with stone patio. Listed at $288K, this is one helluva a house for a reasonable price.